Posted by Sari
This batch had both movies which tried to break away from the masala pattern, and a few that really followed the traditions. The most most formulaic was Kuch khatti kuch meethi, which is from 2001 but looks like it is from early 1990s. Kajol plays a double role as a good twin and a wild twin, separated at birth by the machinations of their nasty aunt. When the twins find each other they switch places to get to know the other parent and begin to plot to bring their parents back together. Yes. It is “The Parent Trap” except Kajol is an adult. Well, two adults. Or something. The most interesting thing in the film was Rishi Kapoor as the weak alcoholic dad manipulated by his sister. He gives a credible performance, maybe aided by his own alcoholic past. Other than that and the fact that Kajol is always adorable, not one of the most memorable hindi movies I have seen.
Tashan was also a film firmly in the masala mode. This 2008 film starring Saif Ali Khan, excellent Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor was a road/gangster/caper comedy with romantic interludes. Saif Ali and Kareena steal evil gangster Anil Kapoors money, Kareena double crosses Saif Ali who ends up chased by Akshay – a comical but competent thug for hire. There are chases, betrayals and bonding, really big scale action sequences and a very sweet love story for Kareena and Akshay. Violence is again very over the top as is the custom in Bollywood, and the humour is pretty broad I liked the buddy chemistry between Akshay and Saif, and though Kareena’s character was the least developed of the three, she did a good job. (In India Tashan got a lot of press before the opening because there is a scene where Kareena goes all Ursula Andress in a bikini). Even if Tashan is not a great film on any standards, I ended up liking it more than I thought I would, mainly because I think all the actors but especially Akshay did a good job.
Luck by Chance is a whole different kettle of fish. It is a story of two young struggling wannabee movie stars and the realities of dream factories. Young actor Vikram (Farhan Akhtar) comes to Mumbai to be a star, friends Sona (Konkona Shen Sharma), an actress doing bit parts and waiting for her big break. For Sona that never comes, her lover/director coolly informs her he wants a fresh face. Vikram gets cast as a hero against a daughter of a legend who is not especially interested in being an actress. Vikram is seduced by the glitz of Bollywood, and only starts to regret abandoning his old companions after Shah Rukh Khan (as himself) reminds him of the importance of friends. When he tries to make up with Sona, she correctly sees hat he is just feeling guilty, and she moves on happily doing TV instead of dreaming of breaking the bank. Luck by Chance has a very low-key approach for a Mumbai movie, the camera work and dialogue are both geared nearer realism than is usual. It is an interesting movie with lots of interesting cameos from famous stars, but the main characters - with the exception of Dimple Kapadia as aging former star making a career for her daughter - fall pretty flat.
Sarkar - the other not so masala movie - is, as its director Ram Gopal Varma admits, an indian take on Godfather. Big B plays Sarkar, a rich and powerful man who dispenses his own brand of justice in the corrupt indian political system. Of his two sons the elder is a movie producer making eyes to his starlets, and the younger – played by Abhishek - is just back from America with his girlfriend. When Sarkar refuses to make a deal with Dubai based don for drug trafficking, he is betrayed and set up for a murder he did not commit. Abhi believes his father and starts to find out who is responsible. In the course of events he has to kill his brother who had gone over to the enemy, and by the end he has taken over Sarkar’s organisation. So, pretty much godfather. It is nowhere as good as the original, but it has been well localised to Indian political culture – Sarkar’s character apparently owes much to maharastrian nationalist strong man politician Bal Thackeray. The Bachchans were obvious choices for these roles and both deliver. Kay Kay who plays the elder brother, even looks a bit like indian James Caan, and Katrina Kaif was pretty good with what she was given. There is a sequel “Sarkar Raj”, which I am looking forward to seeing.